Monday, September 30, 2013

Grape Jam

I recently bought a bushel of Concord Grapes.  I have never even seen Concord Grapes, let alone tried to make something with them :)

To my delight, I found a grape jam recipe online.  There were many different versions.  I tried to choose one that made a large batch and used few ingredients.  Other than normal canning supplies, the recipe I went with simply uses grapes and sugar. 

Unfortunately, because our grapes were seeded, I had to remove all the skins.  So far, I've made two double batches of jam so I've skinned 32 cups of grapes.....YIKES!!  Thankfully, it's not difficult.  You just squeeze and the pulp pops out.  However, it's very time consuming.  Note to seedless next time :)

After separating, cook the pulp in one pot and skins in another.  I did add a little water to the skins so they didn't burn.  The pulp makes its own juice. 

After cooking for about 18-20 minutes, I ran the pulp through a food mill to remove the seeds.  You can do this right over the top of the skins since you will be cooking the skins and pulp together after removing the seeds.  Add sugar to skin/pulp mixture and cook for approx. 10 more minutes. 

I don't recommend covering the pots at any time.  I made this mistake and had grape skin juice overflow like lava.  It's makes a sticky purple mess! 

After boiling, fill jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.  I used pints, but you could use quarts or jelly jars or whatever size you like.  Then process in a hot water bath as usual.  I personally boil for 20 minutes with rapid bubbles.  When you take the lid off the canner, you should hear constant popping and pinging as the jars seal.  It's like music :) 

Remove jars from canner and let stand on cupboard.  You should know within a few hours if they've all sealed.  Refrigerate any that don't.  You can store sealed jars up to one year. 

The jam is a huge hit here!  Ruben devoured nearly a pint in one day :)  So far, I used about 1/2 bushel of grapes (we ate some) and it made 22 pints of jam.    I may try some juice with the rest of the grapes. 

What's your favorite jam?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Riley's Reviews - Raiders from the Sea


I just finished reading Raiders from the Sea by Lois Walfrid Johnson.  It was a very exciting book!  The book takes place in Ireland and on the Irish Sea during the time of the Vikings.  The story is about a girl named Briana, or Bree for short, and her brother Devon.  After rescuing a young Viking leader, Mikkel, Bree and Devon are taken as slaves onto his ship in a Viking raid.  They are taken far from Ireland into the land of the Vikings.  I will spare the details so I don't spoil the book for you.

Raiders from the Sea is the first in a five book series.  The end of the story leaves you hanging so you want to read another book.  I highly recommend Raiders from the Sea and may continue reading the rest of the series. 

- By RileyAnn

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursdays of Thanks....

Library book sale; Scenic Orchard; Local artists; Field trip to Dells Mill; Grape jam; Seeing my elementary school teacher at the grocery store; Healthy 15 month check-up....

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Vikings

I just finished reading aloud The Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway.  It is an excellent book!!   The Vikings is the story of Leif Erikson.  It starts when Leif is a young boy and finishes in his manhood.  We learned a great deal of Viking history through this book and yet it was entertaining.  Nearly everyday, Ruben begged for another chapter.  The vocabulary is very rich and included words even I was unsure of.  However, it never felt like a stumbling block.  Riley looked up some of the words as part of the Beautiful Feet Early American History study.  

The Vikings is part of the Landmark series of books.  I've read parts of other Landmark books, but this is the first I've read from cover to cover.  The Vikings is a recommended read on many book lists including TruthQuest and Beautiful Feet.  

I also read aloud Leif the Lucky by Ingi & Edgar Parin D'Aulaire while covering the Norsemen.  The kids preferred The Vikings hands down.  I would recommend the D'Aulaire books for younger children, if you are just starting out with living books, or you just want a great picture book overview.  We are moving on to Marco Polo and then Columbus next.  I do plan to read the D'Aulaire Columbus book.  We've read about Columbus in the past, but I want a quality quick overview and I think the D'Aulaire book will provide that.  

If you are studying the Vikings, don't miss The Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway.  It's a must read!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursdays of Thanks.....

Oh, I'm so thankful to have our computer back!!  We had to replace the hard drive :(  I was unable to post from the laptop, but I continued to keep my gratitude list so here goes....

Loads of garden onions; Surprising RileyAnn for her birthday; Generous gift of money; New math option; Chocolate Zucchini Brownies; Laptop backup; Late summer camping; Apples; An inch of rain; The Farmer fixing the kitchen chairs; Babysitting a new buddy for Levi; Fixed computer; Keepers at Home....

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hitting Double Digits....

Our little girl is ten today,
Oh my, how time does fly!

From diapers to beautiful girlhood,
We watch the days go by....

Happy Birthday RileyAnn!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Studying the Book of Psalms

We wrapped up our first week back to school.  Though we haven't started everything, we did start our Bible study using Draw to Learn Psalms by Charlene Notgrass.  I must say, this is an awesome study! Even Ruben is enjoying it and asks to complete the lessons :) 

Draw to Learn Psalms has 150 lessons leading your student through the entire book of Psalms.  We are using it as a family.  Riley and Ruben each have their own copy of the book.  Angel and I are using sketch pads to draw our lessons in.  First I read aloud the assigned Psalm.  Then there is a drawing assignment to follow up.  I recommend  Draw to Learn Psalms.  Here are some of this week's drawings....

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursdays of Thanks

James 1; Refrigerator pickles; Wind chimes; Dinner with a friend; A new job for the oldest; Fresh tomatoes; Psalms study...

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." ...James 1

Monday, September 2, 2013

Unofficially Starting Our Official School Year.....

Angel started school slowly last week.  Both girls were begging to get started and I was not ready....I'm still not ready!   We went from moving grandma to softball season, to vacation, to estate sale, to estate sale.  Throw in the garden, haying, a few birthdays, and family reunions and you have our summer.  I blinked my eyes June 1st and opened them to September 1st!!  Aahhh...this week should be our first official week of school, but Riley and Ruben will be starting slowly this week and hopefully up and running next week.

I did manage to get some major school room organizing done over the weekend.  We totally re shelved our history books, I put away books and binders from last year, and figured Angel's grades.  Angel was able to start in full gear today.  I'm listing her scheduled books below.  Riley and Ruben's will follow in later days :)

12th Grade 

Bible - We are using MFW U.S. History 1877 to the Present Spiritual Studies this year.  The books include Operation World, My Heart - Christ's Home, The Hour that Changes the World, Scripture Memory Made Easy, Loving God, and God Owns my Business.  Angel will also be reading Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, and The Deadliest Monster using David Quine's Starting Points

English - Finish up Beautiful Feet U.S. and World History and complete Commas are our Friends

History - We've opted to try the TruthQuest History Guides this year.  Angel will be using Age of Revolution III alongside BF U.S. and World.  She had already read many of the books in the BF guide and most of the others are listed in the TQ guide.  Angel is assigned to read all the TQ commentary, but skip many of the book selections in sections she's already familiar with.   She just told me tonight how much she already LOVES this study :)

Introduction to World Cultures - This is a conglomeration of misc. books, projects, and essays.  I actually created this as a high school version of the Galloping the Globe study I did with Riley and Ruben.  There is also geographic and cultural aspects to her History and Bible this year. 

Economics - A Beka Economics as well as Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?, Economics: A Free Market Reader, and Whatever Happened to Justice?  (Yes, I broke down and used an A Beka textbook ;-)  I was running out of time and not feeling very creative.  I'm glad I had it on the shelf.)

Personal Finance - MFW Personal Finance plan which uses Larry Burkett's Money Matters for Teens Workbook and Money, Possessions, and Eternity. 

Anatomy - Master Books Advanced Pre-Med Studies - You can read more about this here.

Health - Total Health and I Kissed Dating Goodbye.  We will use the syllabus from Hewitt Homeschool for this study.

Art - Short Lessons in Art History - You can view the plan here.

Life Skills - Angel and RileyAnn are both very excited to try Simply Charlotte Mason's Handicraft DVD's this year.  They will use the Hand Sewing and Crochet courses.  Angel will also be working on budgeting, meal planning, and cooking.  We are currently in the midst of canning tomatoes.

So, there you have it, Angel's 12th grade year.  She's very excited about her courses of study this year.   She feels they suit her interests.   You may notice, we opted out of a formal math credit.  She's completed one year of Algebra and one year of Geometry.  We have mutually agreed to call it good and I believe we all feel relief and peace with this decision.  No matter how hard she tries, this poor girl cannot grasp Algebra.  She is gifted in many other areas so we will focus on them. 

Has your school year kicked off?